Platform Building: Identify, Engage and Commit to Your Tribe

New home construction framing.Building a strong and successful author’s platform is every bit as vital as the construction of a dream home. It takes the raw materials of discipline and dedication to your tribe, or audience. As a writer, you are the proprietor of Company You, and must take control of your own marketing and public relations. Counting on a literary agent or publisher to handle this for you is antiquated thinking.

Pillars of an author’s platform include: book/blog writing, guest posting on other blogs, vlog/podcasts, published articles in magazines or periodicals, public speaking and networking via traditional or social media.

Identify your tribe/reader. Add value to your website/web presence for the audience. What are their characteristics?

Engage your tribe. Reply to comments and questions promptly. Write a blog. Let them know your speaking calendar. Post daily content on a Facebook fan page, Twitter feed, Google+ profile, or Pinterest page.

Commit to your tribe. Like a skilled juggler, keep the balls of social media in the air with discipline. Make a commitment to your brand and audience. Don’t let too much time go by without connecting with them. As your platform grows, the stronger it will become.

If you are unpublished, Michael Hyatt’s latest book, Platform, recommends you spend 90 percent of your time writing and 10 percent on platform building. This is true for fiction or non-fiction genres; however, non-fiction writers should have a strong online presence. You want to be considered an expert in your field.

The most important thing is to keep your numbers growing. Even if you only have 15 minutes a day, you can use the time efficiently. Post content or ask questions on your Twitter feed, Pinterest or Facebook fan page, then read two or three other’s blog posts, and give feedback.

Write a guest post on other author’s blogs, especially those who share your genre. If you offer space on your blog, most writers are happy to reciprocate. The Biblical adage, “Do unto others…” fits nicely in this case.

My blog’s focus is encouragement, so I post an inspirational quote and Scripture every day on my Facebook fan page. Consider what might add value to your online presence for your readers. Use organizational and scheduling tools like HootSuite. It’s a huge timesaver.

Check out the social media presence of authors in your genre, or one you respect. Glean what speaks to you, and then find your own niche. The time to build your platform is now, before you sell your first book. At least have the structure in place, so you can hit the ground running when your time comes.

“If you want to get a publishing deal, you need a platform to prove your books will sell.”—Joanna Penn, The Creative Penn

Sources: Who Needs a Platform?, Are You Hitting a Bulls Eye With Your Target Audience?, From Blog to Book: Building an Online Platform, Should Unpublished Novelists Be Platform-Building?; The 15-Minute Writer (Part 3): Building Your Platform, Building Your Author Platform Before The Contract, 4 Pillars to Build an Effective Social Media Platform,

Becoming a Sought-After Public Speaker

As promised, the following is a sequel to last month’s blog post, “Planning a Unique and Popular Book Event.”

You are an expert on (at least) one topic: your book. All that research you did for the project can come in handy for a speech topic. A great way to increase sales of your book and get word-of-mouth buzz going is visibility. Finding ways to increase your presence in your hometown is vital to the popularity and shelf life of your tome.

Effective speech making is a superior strategy in the battle for market visibility. After you determine a few topics you can speak on, make a list of potential venues. These could be: club meetings, school events (think Career Day), senior centers and homes, church or civic groups, writers groups, book clubs, sports banquets, Chamber of Commerce dinners (they’re always looking for speakers), and morning TV or radio newscasts.

Be prepared. Give the speech in front of family at the dinner table. Then invite friends over for coffee. Use your lunch break to speak to your co-workers. Try your speech out on your bowling team or poker buddies. Soon you’ll be able to do that speech in your sleep.

Be a techno-geek. Use multimedia tools. Craft a basic PowerPoint presentation with slides, word and music. Know how to use it, backward and forward. Make a general template once, and then customize it for different events. Most public places have a large TV screen or projector available. If you’re particular, you may want to invest in your own audio/visual equipment.

Be an expert. Know everything there is about your speech subject. You don’t have to be a PhD., just be knowledgeable and passionate. People will respond.

 Be memorable. The best way for folks to remember you is to be authentic. Know your speech well enough that you never look down to your notes. Be flexible and if someone asks a question in the middle, go with it. Appear relaxed, but command attention.

Call your contact person the day before to confirm. Put on the “uniform” you picked out for speech-making. This will make you feel more confident. Make sure you have a box of books in your car at all times, and when you speak, take a few inside. If you have no background in public speaking, join a local speaker’s bureau or Toastmaster’s club or take a few speech classes at a community college.

Before you leave, make sure the group leadership knows you have more speech topics in your back pocket. Shake hands with guests at the meeting, make eye contact and tell them you were honored to be invited to speak. Distribute business cards and bookmarks.  A well-written thank you note sent a few days later will impress.

Jan Dunlap, author of the Birder Murder Mystery series, is a popular speaker at bird watcher club meetings, nature centers and retirement communities. Find a niche in your area and scratch it! Use your knowledge to become a sought-after speaker and it will parlay into book sales.

Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”–Franklin D. Roosevelt, on speech making